LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For many people, the idea of wearing their pajamas while they work sounds pretty appealing.
Having the freedom and flexibility to work remotely is something we've all likely pondered at some point or another. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? THV11 talked with someone who left corporate offices for the chance to work how and where he wanted.
Robert Sproles grew up in a small Arkansas town and worked his way up to becoming a Ph.D. Now, he is working remotely for a global data company. He’s been working remotely for a year.
“Different people approach remote work differently but for me, I thrive on a schedule so I still set work hours like I’m going to the office,” said Sproles. “That office could be coming to a tech park where I have a desk or working out of my home office.”
Able to work from the comfort of wherever he may be, Sproles helps launch satellites into space. He works for Spire Global as the Manager of Ground Stations and Launch. On a daily basis, he’s managing a team of 10 people mostly from his computer.
“I have responsibility for 10 people spread across the US and the UK,” he said. Sproles said managing people remotely can be a challenging feat, from logistics of coordinating across time zones to building relationships and getting everyone on the same page.
“I have multiple video chats each day with multiple offices and throughout the day we are constantly using group messaging to stay in touch,” he said.
His remote lifestyle also means spending half of his time on the road traveling to his company's various offices and meeting with team members.“I often joke with my friends that my office is whatever airport terminal I’m in at the time,” he said.
He said he's learned aspects of traveling and working remotely are much different than what he initially envisioned; there are a lot of misconceptions.
“People think it’s completely freeing and you can work in your pajamas every day,” he said. “While, yes, you can do that if you want, that doesn’t mean you don't have to have the discipline to put in the hours.”
He said the most important thing that has been true, is the ability to work while still putting family and home life first.“It gives you the freedom to work a few hours in the morning, take care of the family, and then work a few more hours during the night,” he said.
While it’s a blessing, he said it can be a challenge too. Separating work life from home life is hard when it can all blend together.“I’ve found at times I work more hours than I did when I was in an office, maybe to compensate for the freedom or lack of focus at certain times in the day,” said Sproles.
He said another challenge is the lack of personal connection.“There are long periods of less social interaction,” he said. “Even though you’re connected online to co-workers, you don't get the office environment of seeing people on a regular basis like seeing them in the hallway.”
That’s why when he is in town, he works three days a week at the Little Rock Tech Park downtown.
“I am able to get up in the morning and help the kids get ready for school,” he said. “Since my kids go to school downtown, I drive them there, drop them off and then I’m here at the Tech Park instantly.”
He said places like the Tech Park provide an element of an office like comradery and additional tools for the job; things like amenities, high tech printers, and other office things you may not have at home.
“One of the benefits of working somewhere like this is that it gives remote workers things they might not have access to, whether that be high-speed internet or meeting rooms,” he said.
For those considering a remote work lifestyle, Sproles wants to leave you with a piece of advice.“Really think about your personality type and if you crave or need social interaction on a day to day basis,” he said. “If you do, you might want to find a place that allows that remote work environment like the Little Rock Tech Park or maybe it’s just best for you to stay in the office environment.”